Main Menu

Great Lakes 2T



The original Great Lakes Model 2T-I Sport Trainer was built by the Great Lakes Aircraft Corp. in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1929.

Between 1929 and 1932, the company built more than 200 of them, and they quickly became a great favorite of aerobatic pilots. The designer, Charles W. Meyers, raced a customized Great Lakes with considerable success during the early 1930s, and the legendary Tex Rankin flew one in airshows throughout the country before World War II setting records for both inside and outside loops. After the war, enthusiasm for the airplane continued and many airframes were converted to accept larger engines, particularly Warner radials. During the past several years, factory blueprints of the design have been available to homebuilders from the resurrected Great Lakes Aircraft Co., also of Cleveland, and several are under construction utilizing various modern engines.

The 2T-1 began as a very simple, clean design with straight wings and a four-cylinder 85-hp Cirrus engine. It was found to be tail heavy and accordingly difficult to recover from a flat spin. For some reason reluctant to move the engine forward, the designers hit upon the expedient of moving the center of lift aft by sweeping back the outer panels of the top wing. This decision was fortuitous; it wasn't clearly realized at the time, but sweep-ing the wings of an airplane tends to improve its snap-rolling ability.
First shown in Detroit in 1929, the 2T-1 was an instant success, winning 500 orders from prospective dealers within a couple of weeks of its debut. Bringing in consultants from the auto industry, the Great lakes Aircraft Company set up a Detroit-style production line. The airplane was certificated in June 1929; aided by tours, publicity stunts and some surprising success as a racer, the 2T-1 promised to make the fortune of its builders but then October came, and the stock market crash, and the future changed completely. Production went on into the spring of 1931; thereafter, airplanes were built to order from parts backlogs, but series manufacture ceased.

The original upright Cirrus engine eventually was replaced with an inverted, or "Hi-Drive," Cirrus of 90 hp; but none of the Cirrus engines was entirely satisfactory, and surviving airplanes were eventually reengined, many of them with radials such as the 145-hp Warner Scarab and the 185-hp.

About 1964, Harvey R. Swack decided it was a shame that the city of Cleveland (home of the original Great Lakes Company) had forgotten Great Lakes. What the local museum needed was a restoration or a replica of the 2T-1. The museum agreed. Unable to afford the genuine article, Swack determined to build a replica. He obtained from the FAA a copy of the original blueprints, but then some involved legal obstacles to his building the replica arose, and he was obliged to search out the legal owners of the design and the type certificate.

Then the museum decided it would not settle for a mere replica. But now Swack, who had visited the Great Lakes factory as a boy and who treasured a memory of the sporty maroon biplane on display there, set out to render the fine old machine its due, first by selling copies of the blue-prints to homebuilders, paying a commission to the legal owners, and eventually by buying the title to the design. The type certificate had expired, but Swack managed to extract a renewal from the FAA and began to dream of getting the airplane back into production.

Doug Champlin was an airplane collector who had run an operation restoring Waco UPF-7s but when the supply of Waco basket cases ran out, Champlin cast about for another approach and came upon Harvey Swack. Swack sold out to Champlin, who first equipped the airplane with a 140-hp Lycoming engine and then got an entirely new type certificate for a four-aileron version with a 180-hp engine and constant-speed prop, cleaning up the old certificate, which - with the addition of modern engine and prop, new inverted systems and fuel tanks, wing mods and heel brakes - had become an unwieldy thicket of STCs.

The new Great Lakes, built in Wichita and Enid, Oklahoma, first came out in 1972.

In 1973, the Model 2T-IA-1 was certified with a 140-hp Lycoming, and the Model 2T-IA-2 (with a 180-hp Lycoming) was produced for the first time in 1974.

By 1977 was building airplanes at the rate of three a month. The company has drawn a lot of attention at air shows with a special display airplane powered by a 420-shp Allison turbo-prop. This airplane is not intended for production; it is more a cooperative demonstration of capability by Great Lakes and Allison.

In 1980, after more than 50 years, the legendary Great Lakes biplane found a new home in Eastman, Georgia. R. Dean Franklin, a Great Lakes pilot, set up a modern production facility after acquiring production rights, type certificates, and other assets of the Great Lakes Aircraft Co. The Great Lakes is the oldest certificated airplane still in production, and its manufacture closely follows the basic specifications of the original design.

The Great Lakes production ended in 1978. The manufacturer of the 1930s-design, two-seat sport biplane, which has delivered 126 of the airplanes since production was resumed in 1973, will continue to produce spare parts for the aircraft in service.


Great Lakes 2T-1A NC842K s/n 106


Engine 90-hp Cirrus.
Seats 2.
Gross wt. 1,580 lb.
Empty wt. 910 lb.
Top speed 116 mph.
Cruise 100 mph.
Stall 40 mph.
Initial climb rate 1,035 fpm.
Range 400 nm.
Ceiling 21,000ft

Engine 180-hp Lycoming
Seats 2.
Gross wt. 1,800 lb.
Empty wt. 1,230 lb.
Fuel capacity 26 USG
Top 132 mph.
Cruise 118 mph.
Stall 54 mph.
Initial climb rate 1,150 fpm.
Ceiling 17,000 ft.
Range 300 nm.
Takeoff distance (50') 825 ft.
Landing distance (50') 825 ft.

Engine: AC.E. Cirrus, 95 hp.

Engine: 140 hp.

Engine: Lycoming AEIO-360-B1G6, 180 hp.
TBO: 1800 hrs.
Prop: Hartzell 2-blade, 74-in.
Seats: 2.
Length: 21.1 ft.
Height: 7.7 ft.
Wingspan: 26.7 ft.
Wing area: 180 sq.ft.
Maximum ramp weight: 1800 lbs.
Maximum takeoff weight: 1800 lbs.
Standard empty weight: 1230 lbs.
Maximum useful load: 570 lbs.
Maximum landing weight: 1800 lbs.
Wing loading: 10 lbs/sq.ft.
Power loading: 10 lbs/hp.
Maximum usable fuel: 150 lbs.
Best rate of climb: 1150 @ 65 kts.
Climb gradient: 1061 ft/nm.
ROC @ 8000 ft: 683 fpm.
Service ceiling: 17,000 ft.
Maximum speed: 110 kts.
Normal cruise @ 65% pwr @ 8000 ft: 102 kts.
Fuel flow @ normal cruise: 48 pph.
Endurance at normal cruise: 3 hrs:
Stalling speed clean: 48 kts.
Stalling speed flaps down: 46 kts.
Turbulent-air penetration speed: 133 kts.


Engine: Lycoming IO-360-B1F6, 180hp.
Length: 20 ft. 4 in.
Height: 7 ft. 4 in.
Wingspan: 26 ft. 8 in.
Wing area: 187.6 sq. ft.
Seats: 2.
Gross weight: 1,800 lbs.
Empty weight: 1,230 lbs.
Useful load: 570 lbs.
Payload with full fuel: 414 lbs.
Fuel cap: 26 USG/156 lbs.
Wing loading: 9.63 lbs./sq.ft.
Power loading: 10 lb/hp.
Minimum field length: 850 ft.
Rate of climb: 1,400 fpm.
Maximum cruise (75% power): 105 kts.
Economy cruise (55% power): 92 kts.
Range at Maximum cruise, 45-min res: 208 nm.
Range at economy cruise, 45-min res: 242 nm.
Stall speed: 47 kts.
Service ceiling: 17,000 ft.

2000 Great Lakes
Engine: Lycoming IO-360-B1F6, 180hp
TBO: 2000 hrs
Fuel type: 100/100LL
Propeller type: Hartzell CS
Landing gear type: Conventional/Fixed
Max ramp weight: 1800 lb
Gross weight: 1800 lb
Landing weight: 1800 lb
Empty weight, std. : 1230 lb
Useful load, std.: 570 lb
Payload, full std. fuel: 414 lb
Usable fuel, std: 26 USG
Wingspan: 26 ft. 8 in.
Overall length: 20 ft. 4 in.
Height: 7 ft. 4 in.
Wing area: 188 sq. ft
Wing loading: 9.6 lbs./sq. ft.
Power loading: 10.0 lbs./hp
Wheel track: 5 ft. 9 in.
Wheel size: 6.00 x 6 in
Seating capacity: 2
Baggage capacity: 30 lb
Cruise speed 75% power @ 6,000 ft.: 101 kt  
Max range (w/ reserve) 55% power: 310 nm  
Estimated endurance (65%): 2.5 hr
Stall speed: 47 knots
Best rate of climb: 1150 fpm
Service ceiling: 17,000 ft
Takeoff ground roll: 575 ft
Takeoff over 50-ft. obstacle: 825 ft
Landing ground roll: 400 ft
Landing over 50-ft. obstacle: 825 ft

Great Lakes Sport Trainer
Top speed: 138 mph
Cruise: 125 mph
Stall: 40 mph
Range: 340 sm
Rate of climb: 1200 fpm
Takeoff dist: 300 ft
Landing dist: 400 ft
Service ceiling: 14,000 ft
Engine: Lycoming O-320, 150 hp
HP range: 125-200
Fuel capacity: 26 USG
Empty weight: 1025 lb
Gross weight: 1618 lb
Height: 7.3 ft
Length: 20.3 ft
Wing span: 26.7 ft
Wing area: 187.5 sq.ft
Seats: 2
Landing gear: tail



Copyright © 2021 all-aero. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.